tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC December 20, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PST
he turned around, and all of a sudden, there was this guy standing there from the red cross. at a point where i had just lost everything, the idea that there was someone there... that's an amazing thing. ♪ speaker john boehner is playing a starring role in this year's production of "a christmas carol." the only question is whether he is bob cratchet or ebenezer scrooge. it's december 20th, and this is "now." joining me today bloomberg business week editor josh tierengel and daily beast special correspondent megan mccartel, author of "thanksgiving, how to cook it well" and, of course, national editor of the "new york times"
sam sifton, and author of the new ebook, the end of the line, politico senior white house reporter the man usually with the hat glen thrush. today is the biggest delivery day of the year. an estimated 28 million packages. unfortunately, none of those deliveries are expected to be a deal on the fiscal cliff. from president obama or speaker boehner. the two have not spoken since monday. instead this evening republicans will be voting on boehner's plan b, which they have attached as an amendment to a law rejecting trade with burma. that original bill was passed in response to a hard line ber meez government with a history of entransigence. the burm ease has nothing to do -- in an amendment to make ate a hard line party with a history of intransigence. >> the house will pass ledges lakes to make permanent tax relief for nearly every american. 99.81% of the american people. >> even if boehner scrapes
together enough votes to pass plan b, senate democrats and the president have vowed to block it, so the whole endeavor is yet another act of outrageous and generally useless political theater. as if that wasn't enough, late last night majority leader eric cantor introduced a second bill, a sweetener of sorts for plan b. one that would replace the automatic defense cuts scheduled for january 1st, and instead make additional cuts to programs including food stamps, meals on wheels, and obama care. >> the president has a decision to make. he can support these measures or be responsible for reckless spending and the largest tax hike in american history. >> so republicans have created their own solution to the fiscal cliff. it is one that conveniently manages to deny congressional reality and repudiate the results of the election held less than two months ago. that is not all. republicans were also planning to call a vote on extending the bush tax cut for only those making less than $250,000 a year. a bill they would all reject in a show of force against the
president's initial tax request. house leadership canceled that vote with one aide telling nbc news "since the president is at $400,000, there is no point to that exercise." meaning, the meaningless floor vote is even more meaningless because the president has already compromised. that concession is still, however, not enough to bring republicans back to the negotiating table. >> they keep on finding ways to say no as opposed to finding ways to say yes, and i don't know how much of that just has to do with, you know, it is very hard for them to say yes to me, but, you know, at some point, you know, they got to take me out of it. >> joining us now from capitol hill is a stage of congress nbc's luke russert, the man -- >> oh, my,, alex wagner, how are you? >> i'm good. how are you, luke?
what is going on? tell us what this -- where are we? give us a road map here, because those of us on the outside looking up to capitol hill for some explanation are flummexed at best. the amendment to plan b, the cantor addendum, are we any closer to an actual deal? >> no one necessarily knows for sure, alex, but what i can tell you is i spoke to a number of members last night who are sort of establishment republicans, and they said, look, we don't necessarily know what exactly the speaker is doing unless this is some sort of a large plan that he and obama have together so that he gets to be able to show the more conservative members of his congress that he is doing all he can to prevent some sort of large scale deal in a would have a massive tax increase from happening. something happened on monday that we don't know about. if you read the newspaper articles, if you talk to people, it seemed like the two sides were close. obama put 400,000. boehner afters at a million. obama said i couldn't take
700,000 or $800,000 in terms of the tax rates. that still leaves 500,000 or maybe up to 650,000. what happened to make these two sides go back this their corner and paintory put forward plan b? no one knows for sure. the explanation we're hearing is, well, the president is not serious. well, from reading everything and from talking to people, it seems to be that both sides were moving together. what happened? we do not necessarily know. this plan b will most likely pass tonight. republicans believe they have the votes after they added those defense cuts in there. sorry. after they replaced the defense cuts. it would move forward. mr. cantor said that they're not going to go home this weekend. apparently they're going to be here. it's unclear what exactly they would work on, but this is some sort of dance we're seeing here, alex, that really has no explanation. >> we thought it was three acts. it turns out to be a 15 act. glen, if you break it down, as luke says, we were not that far away at some point? maybe we're still close, who knows? we have a handy chart. in terms of tax revenue, obama wanted $1.3 trillion.
boehner $1 trillion. incomes affected obama was pushing for $400,000 or more. boehner $1 million or more. spending cuts is where there are question marks. the president wants $1.2 trillion. boehner hasn't addressed it in this plan b. the debt ceiling would be the sticking point. can they not just come together? can't we all just get along? >> can i call this the morning after bill? >> yes. the plan b -- the plan b metaph metaphor. here's what happened. a bunch of really conservative members called up john boehner and said we don't like this, you're way out in front of us. this happens -- anyone who has ever covered this time and time again -- we saw this in the debt ceiling. every time he takes a step forward, he gets slammed in the head with a frying pan. the bottom line is 25 of those guys in the room with john boehner are not going to be around for the lightning round. they are going to have to take a back-breaking vote on this, and they're likely to lose their seat in terms of the tea party challenge. that is the fact. no deal can be done without
breaking some backs in the republican conference, and everything that you are seeing right now is john boehner trying to figure out some way to do that. >> meagan, i thought the republicans were going to -- i mean, boehner seemed to have this sort of renewed sense of confidence. he was purging nay sayers from top leadership committees. there was a sense that cantor was leaning back, and the noises of his issues were not as noisy. if boehner cannot rally his troops behind a negotiating ploy like this, plan b, there is no chance he can get them to support an actual deal obama would sign. obama is trying to cut a deal with boehner, and he may succeed, but in all likelihood such a social security would lead to a reprize of the 2011 associations when house republicans threw the deal back in boehner's face or hit him with the frying pan, if you like glen's -- >> the problem to me is that conservatives may be better off. yes, they have -- this way they haven't voted for it. republicans aren't better off if they go over the cliff.
the republican party is going to suffer if they do this, but individual people who are more closely aligned at this point with the conservative tea party movement than with the republican party as an institution, those people aren't willing to sign on, because, in fact, it might be better for kind of conservative principles if you did this, and that that kind of practical calculus in much the way you saw in a health care debate where you had a lot of -- you knew that probably nancy pelosi knew she was going to lose some of the people who voted for that, but it was a core thing for them, and she was willing to take that charge. >> but, you know, i mean, sam, nancy pelosi gets it done. i mean, at the end of the day she has a set of brass knuckles, and her troops fall in line. i think we have -- there's a lot of arm change prognostication of john boehner and how in danger he is of his speakership. luke will say that he is not. i'll bring you in a second, luke. democrats end up playing ball even when there are pills in there that are icky for them to swallow. >> look, if boehner doesn't get
it done tonight, is he in real trouble. if he does, okay. it's funny to me. you take away that chart we looked at earlier, and we're just a panel talking about the plot of general hospital. we don't know exactly why the nurse did that and turned on the weather machine or whatever it is. >> who is the nurse? >> that's a good question. >> oh, blacky. >> there is a sense that the republican party would not be doing all of this if they could avoid it, right? to meagan's point, if you look at the polling on this, 69% of the public disapproves of the way republicans are handling this. 17% approve. this is not good in terms of party management going forward. maybe it helps you in 2014. >> you pointed it out. we've spoken in many metaphors already, but the one that's most apt is luke's dance metaphor. the president has come to walts. boehner has represented himself as that single partner, but as soon as the music starts, he has to go back and he has to form a conga line that will get him to
the floor so that he can waltz with the president. it is a leadership issue, but it's also reflective of exactly what we saw during the election. the republican party has much greater -- i would argue that you have -- you have members of the progresssive wing, and i want to ask you about that. there are democrats that have been angry. you look at move on and huffington post. there has been outcry from the left about earned benefit programs like social security and medicare on the table as the president has done, but at the end of the day you get a sense that democrats will take it if this is the grand bargain. >> and they will because they will be rounded up together by nancy pelosi. >> boom. >> mayor from baltimore's daughter when there's a big vote she never fails on a big vote, and i think that's a testament to her history on capitol hill. when you look back at her, you'll say health care, tarp. when she has to deliver, she has to deliver. if there is some sort of large deal, the problem won't be
because a few liberals are angry about chain cpi. the problem will be on john boehner's side with republicans who say they cannot vote for my type of tax increase. what's also interesting here, though, alex is you are starting to see a divide. we've talked about this before between senate republicans and house republicans. a lot of senate republicans, if you want to say the wiser, older men are saying, look, take a deal where we can get these type of massive entitlement cuts. we might not err see this opportunity from president obama again. we really should do it. does that sort of play -- are there enough establishment old school gop house reps who will believe that? it remains to be seen. as one reason now we're hearing as to why all this consternation recently, the white house i'm told from an e-mail down pennsylvania avenue was informed that the reason why boehner is moving to plan b is because republicans would not support the type of deal that was introduced on monday, so he is doing this essentially to save face and we'll see what happens afterward. >> are you making christmas
plans? are you stuffing stockings? >> you know what's interesting, alex, is i was offered the opportunity to host the daily rundown on december 26th, and i said yes because, you know why, i had a little bit of a feeling that we would be here in session. >> my brother -- >> i have no holiday plans. i'm with the cliff -- the grinch. the grinch's name is cliff now who stole christmas. >> cliff the grinch. there's a reason we call you the sage of capitol hill. mr. september, nbc's luke russert. thank you, sir. >> take care. after the break vice president biden is set to hold his first gun violence task force meeting, but this is not biden's first foray into gun reform. we will examine the administration's best hope at taking control of the issue next on "now."
>> in case after case of murderous ram pages by disturbed and violent thugs, the ability of military style assault weapons to kill and maim, not just a few, but eight or ten, 14, 35 people in just minutes has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt. >> in the early 1990s joe biden took on gun violence. as the chair of the senate judiciary committee, he played a crucial role in passing the assault weapons ban. now nearly 20 years later he is once again being charged with developing a plan to stop deadly shootings. in about an hour the vice president will hold the first meeting of president obama's task force to combat gun violence. bide seven expected to meet with cabinet members and law enforcement officials. the veep has long been a supporter of gun control, a
decision made abundantly clear after being questioned by a debater in 2008. >> tell me your position on gun control as myself and other americans really want to know if our babies are safe. this is my baby. purchased under the 1994 gun ban. >> if that's his baby, he needs help. >> biden also has the ability to reach out to gun rights supporters as well as a law enforcement community, and that skill could help win over crucial support from republicans. >> he was not chosen casually or by accident. he has such a long history with these issues, including working with law enforcement. that is the piece of this that really hasn't been in the foreso far. if law enforcement groups are marshalled by joe biden as they were as when he was in the judiciary committee, that could make a huge difference in pressuring not all republicans, but some republicans to work on a common agenda with the president. >> glen, when i hear all of this, i'm reminded of that scene in "star wars" where princess
leya is a hole gram, and she's saying obe spf won, you're my only hope. is he the only hope around this? >> i have a contrarian view. >> that's why we have you on the program. >> having arguments with my friends in the white house. this is very much the fierce urgency of january. every day we get away from -- distant from the tragedy in connecticut. there is less urgency for the passage of this sort of legislation. now, i understand that dianne feinstein is not introducing her bill until january, and there is a lot of stuff to move around. we obviously are dealing with this fiscal cliff negotiation, but you can't tell me that when biden comes up with his very reason -- platter of suggestions, and he is going to clearly be working with groups that have equity in this, that there is going to be as much urgency, that there's going to be as much emotion around this issue as there is right now. the question that i have for the white house, and they wrael weren't able to answer it in the press conference yesterday, is why not move? even if it's symbolically more
quickly on any one of these issues. >> that's an interesting point to bring up, sam, and as the national editor at "the times" dana mill bank points out in an op ed yesterday -- he writes "the experience of the press conference showed -- the president's press conference yesterday -- showed how difficult it will be to keep the focus on this issue and why each day of delay in pursuit of new gun controls makes success less likely. the fist three questioners obama called on asked about fiscal cliff negotiations. what began as an appearance to draw attention to gun control turned into a forum for the president to taunt congressional republicans over taxes and spending. >> we have talked a little bit about newtown as a water shed moment. it may be that that press conference will be a watershed moment for the white house as well. what we saw on the national desk was a tremendous outpouring of kind of surprise, even rage at that -- in the nation from people who feel the fierce urgency of right now. not of january. i think there's going to be a tremendous amount of pressure on
the white house from the states and from constituents within the states and constituent groups within the states to push on gun control reform right away. >> meagan, i want to ask you. there's the public outcry -- things are falling off of my body. that's for the blooper reel next year. there is the question about the fierce urgency of now, the tragedy being immediately in our wake. there's also the long-term prescription for the republican party, which we're talking about a lot, but on gun control there is a sense that there are moderate republicans who would not be opposed to some kind of reform, and we're beginning to hear representative jean green from texas and the washington post saying i worry the nra has become a captive of the republican party at a time that it needs democratic votes. in the long run it will be weakened. brian ballard in the "wall street journal", a top republican fundraiser in florida, said opposition to certain gun control measures will make our job a lot harder electing middle of the road republicans in the future. i think republicans have to be
mindful that just because the nra says something, it doesn't mean it's going to be advantageous to you and sort of the demographic we're speaking to in specific here is mothers across america. women who are swing voters. what is the republican party doing if it wants to win those votes 2014, 2016 and beyond? >> i think it probably ends up doing sort of close to what the democratic party is going to do, which is if you look at the kinds of gun controls that people support, they're not really very effective at stopping these kinds of shootings, right? the assault weapons ban, we had columbine. we had michael corn he'll and a lot of school shootings after that ban because, in fact, most of what it did, except for the ban on extended magazines, which i think probably does cut down on the fatality of these shootings, mostly it sort of looks scary or -- you know, the thing that's dangerous about the gun is that it's a gun, and there's almost no kind of semiautomatic gun that you can define that's specially dangerous. >> you get the sense that republicans would play ball on something like banning high capacity magazines? >> i think that you're
probably -- the best shot is going to be high capacity magazines because you're already hearing it from some people, and things like maybe strengthening background checks. you may have a chance at the private sale, although that's apparently legally more complicated than it sounds. >> something we don't talk about at all that would be hugely effective would be reforming our relationship with the atf, the bureau of the justice department that is charged with regulating gun sales and gun ownership. >> there's been no director. >> in six years since the congress mandated that they needed to confirm the director. there's no director. there are vastly fewer agents than there were in the past, and thewatching the guns in this country is just not being done. >> if we can return this a little bit. i think that the president -- the words task force are always awful whenever a president says them. it denotes a lack of seriousness. in this issue, first of all, i'm not surprised. this is not a guy who has shown
that he is going to make policy out of emotion, but on top of it we're talking about an issue that's not really an issue. it's about freedom, and it's not merely about, know, freedom to the people who want to own guns. it's about freedom for everybody. you roll in all there's different things about access, about purchasing, about culture where the federal government has almost no leverage, and so i actually think it's not a bad idea to get a guy like biden who has experience building coalitions, including with law enforcement, and coming with your best gang behind you to say, okay, here's the checklist, because we've all mentioned stuff that is passable, that could work on the floor today, that could continue the attention. you are trying to make policies for decades. you're not trying to win today. especially when you are the president for the next four years and you're not running for anything else afterward. to me it actually does make sense to slow play it a little bit. >> well, to a degree, though, right? he can't stretch this out until the six-month commission. i want to point out one thing because nate silver has a great analysis. in terms of support for gun
control and reform around the weapons laws and possession of guns in this country, it is increasingly divided along partisan lines, and if you look at that, republican gun ownership is basically been steady. that's the red line there. democratic gun ownership has gone further down. in that way -- rural, ush know al arian, and education levels. i think one of the things i would like to take issue with you on one thing. we know what -- there has been -- this is one of the most endlessly discussed litigated and studied issues in american life. okay? this has been going on for a long time. i remember covering the brady bill, and covering efforts by gun dealers to get around the brady bill. we know what the tool kit is here. we don't really need a task force to get behind this kind of thing. we don't need, you know, a lot of these large urban police forces that have been marshalled already through mayor bloomberg's effort, and i don't think we really need the time to put together a proposal, and i just don't think that -- >> what do you -- >> i'm not saying the task force is the key. if the president was answering the question honestly yesterday
about where have you been, he would have said politics is the art of the -- as awful as it is, this is the moment when i actually have people in a persuadable state, and so what i'm going to do is not miss the moment. if i come out and say, hey, look, here's the six policies in the past that i think might work, let's get them on the floor. that's a mistake. >> this is a president who has lectured us as the media in the white house time and time again about our lack of an attention span, and yesterday he said that he thought d.c.'s add would be put on hold long enough for him to be able to do this in january. i have serious questions about whether that's possible. >> who cares? i mean, ultimately, this isn't an issue about the media's attention. >> yeah, but media attention also helps sort of light a fire. i think the president could have said jake tapper, where have you been? at the end of the day i think there is a -- it is hard to talk about gun control. it's often not a sexy subject because it's so -- it gets lost,
you know? it is not the same as aurora. i think the depth of this tragedy is going to be felt for longer, at least, than previous tragedies. we have to leave it there. coming up, the garden state is really becoming further i'll ground for potential campaign runs. chris christie's name -- another tri-state politico is looking to throw his hat in the ring. we will discuss jersey boys just ahead.
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in futility. >> we are want taking up any of the thunksz they are working on over there now. it's time for republicans to get serious. it's very, very, very unfortunate republicans are wasting an entire week on a number of pointless political stunts. sdroo we will look at the report on benghazi and what it purports for the hearing when former assistant secretary of state peter crowley joins us coming up next. ♪
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which resulted in the deaths of four americans, including u.s. ambassador chris stevens. the scathing 39-page report has now led to the resignation or dismissals of four senior state department officials. in addition to cataloging the security failures in benghazi, the report also concluded that there had been no demonstration at the site prior to the attack. it reminded americans that "the key questions surrounding the identity, actions, and motivations of the perpetrators remain to be determined." all of this drew some tough reaction from lawmakers on the senate foreign relations committee who heard testimony from two deputy secretaries in place of hillary clinton who is recuperating from a concussion. >> i cannot imagine that we had people out there with the lack of security existing, and it seems to me what the state department would have done is to prioritize and if, in fact, we cannot have people safely there, not send them there. >> fending off criticism over her absence, clinton yesterday announced that she will appear before the committee in
mid-january once she has recovered. at the start of today's hearing john kerry made it clear that no one had any reason to doubt the secretary's absence. >> since everyone is aware, secretary clinton is recovering from a serious virus and concussion and given her condition, it was simply not possible for her to appear today, and i assure you it is not her choice that she is not here today, and she looks forward to appearing before the committee in january. >> joining us now from washington is former assistant secretary of state p.j. crowley. p.j., as always, i have many questions for you. the first is as far as this report, very scathing language about shortcomings and deficiencies over at the state department. how much of an issue is this for hillary clinton, who it must be noted, has thus far not been really mentioned? susan rice is the one that effectively took the heat for a lot of this. how much sort of back peddling is hillary clinton going to have to do when she does testify? >> well, this is part of her
legacy. it happened on her watch. so, you know, she -- as she has said in her letter to the foreign relations committee, she is ultimately responsible for what happened in benghazi, although as tom pickering and the other members of the accountability review board made clear, that in terms of those who have made decisions or had miscalculations that contributed to the lack of security of benghazi, that happened at the assistant secretary of state level and, obviously, you've had those four resignations as a result. >> p.j., there's been some pushback as far as the systematic failures, and one of the questions is around budgeting, right? we all know we are bearing witness how difficult it is to get the money question off the table in congress, and we do know that funds for embassy security have been cut back in recent years. is there some amount of cover -- cover is probably the wrong word, but is there some amount of explanation in terms of how and why this happened that is due in part to budgeting? >> yes. the short answer is that
depending how you calculate, the state department budget is one-tenth, one-11, one-12th of the pentagon budget. i think people are realizing, there are two conversations going on here in washington, right? you have the benghazi report this morning. you've got the talk about the fiscal cliff, which underneath it suggests that government should do more with less, and the state department to some extent is a manifestation of that. it's actually an incredibly well managed bureaucracy. however, over the years it has been systematically underfunded. when a defense budget goes to the hill, congress -- members of congress go what can we add to it? when the foreign relations budget goes to the hill, the reaction is what can we subtract from it because it's not the same political constituency. >> i want to bring in our panel here. you know, josh, we -- there's been so much back -- there's so much politicizing over everything from, you know, the fast and the furious, attorney general eric holder, the benghazi events that were certainly tragedy iic, the loss
of life, the loss of the u.s. ambassador. it has been so embroiled in politics and you add a clinton to the mix, and it gets even more political, and i will call your attention to charles krauthammer is to say where were you, what were your orders, but apparently she is suffering from acute benghazi allergy which causes light heatedness when she hears the word benghazi. >> ever-sensitive charles krauthammer. i think the help of a clinton has depoliticized. there are many people that would do anything to avoid taking her on, so they're going after susan rice, which we saw. what's frustrating to me is i still don't actually know what happened. i think that we're all sort of trying to sort out where did this attack come from? there's clearly terrorist action. who was it? how do we know? where is the line between the department of defense and the secretary of state? how should we be protecting our diplomats? those kinds of questions don't come up at all. some of it is because of the urge ens around particularly on
the republican side trying to find anything. they're looking for a foot hold, and this does in this sort of abstract nature of it all provide one. we don't really have any answers on what matters in all this, and i'm not sure when we're going to get them. >> that's right. that part of the report that says we actually have no idea who did this -- i mean, this happened on september 11th. it's been months. i feel like we've been having hearings in the interim, and, yet, there seem to be no -- there's no evidence. there is no clue pointing us in any direction. >> well, sure. i mean, we don't really know yet the political agenda behind this, but i think we do know that this is exactly the kind of thing that we're going see in the future. you know, terrorists are extremists going after the softer more accessible targets, and while clearly as the report said we need to do a better job of protecting diplomatic posts. this was unusual. it was not really a formal consulate. it was something less than that. as bill burns, you know, said
yesterday, you know well, do need to do better. it's not the only thing. the first failure was by the libyan government. it had no capacity to fulfill its vienna convention requirements to provide a secure environment. we obviously did not have enough security forces within the compound to repell this attack by these terrorists. you know, it's going to be a combination of things. better construction, better analysis here in washington, better support for embassies on the fwround. if not one thing, it's multiple things. >> the other key thing is the hash tag awkward vibe that may occur between john kerry, who is supposed to be taking over, presumably, secretary clinton's role. he is going to be chairing these hearings when she testifies. what kind of balance does he need to strike there? >> i don't think he needs -- from his perspective -- to strike any balance at all.
i think is as deeply in the tank as he will possibly be on any issue. >> what do you mean by deeply in the tank on any issue? >> john kerry is -- it's widely known in the senate -- in fact, it's aroused some resentment within the white house about this -- that john kerry is kind of the pick of john mccain and lindsey graham and those guys. he already has those votes, presumably. there's really no down side in terms of him just kind of -- >> do you think that's true? meagan? no matter what kerry does he is sort of tough on because he has mccain and graham's endorsement? >> presumably. there is something he could do, but he does have friends. he is one of the senators in the era when people still had friends on the other side of the aisle. i think it's quite likely that is he going to go through if -- and then scott brown, it looks like, is going to be our next senator in massachusetts. >> maybe. we'll be talking about that in the next block, which is a great segue. thank you, meagan. p.j. crowley, unfortunately, my
friend, as usual, we don't have enough time to ask you all the questions. thank you for joining us. >> a pleasure, alex. the latest 2016 buzz is not necessarily about hillary clinton or chris christie, but another notable face that has reached similar highs and lows. witness argo versus -- we will examine ben affleck's senate prospects coming up next. i always wait until the last minute.
can i still ship a gift in time for christmas? yeah, sure you can. great. where's your gift? uh... whew. [ male announcer ] break from the holiday stress. ship fedex express by december 22nd for christmas delivery. it is no surprise that governor chris christie is thinking about a presidential run in 2016. especially given his recent comment that he will be more ready in four years than he was in 2012. another non-surprise? newark mayor booker saying he will be ready for a run in 2016. one of the names being floated as a possible replacement for senator john kerry is, wait for
it, ben affleck. kerry's massachusetts senate seat will be open if he is appointed the next secretary of state. no stranger to politics, affleck has been an active member of the democratic party pour ten years and recently campaigned for senator-elect elizabeth warren. yesterday he was on the hill raising awareness about the violence of the congo. also on his agenda, a meeting with the current senior senator from massachusetts john kerry. daredevil for senate. coming up, thai food was out, and chicken tenders were in. who knew presidential campaigns were so superstitious? we will dig into that and other revealing nuggets in glenn thrush's new e book coming up. sometimes what we suffer from is bigger than we think ... like the flu.
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political junkie, look for further than the ebook "the end of the line" in which glenn thrush and jonathan martin talks about the hubris at play in the campaigns as they battled for the presidency. glen, so many delicious anecdotes in here to unpack. here's one of my favorites. the obama aides had always been a superstitious lot. the hyper-rationale phoupf was the unlikely ringleader. there was a blanket ban on thai food in chicago. the prep team's last supper in denver before the debate. you go on to say that hq ate lots of chicken tenders from nush houlihan's because that had worked in 2008. who knew? >> well, i have to say my collaborator jonathan martin has been senting me emails for this entire appearance saying sell the damn book. >> that's what we're trying to do now. >> it's $3, which means you can give it to somebody. >> it's a good deal. >> you really are selling the book right now. can we talk about the chicken
tenders? >> snis stocking stuffer. >> it's cheaper than the actual chicken tenders. >> plouff was this hyperrationale guy who ran this campaign like a corporation, was apparently so nervous after the first debate and everyone was so nervous they moved around conference rooms. plouff was ordering david axlerod what hotel rooms he should stay in and told him to wear -- i lot of the scene where he tells axlerod to wear a lucky tie. axelrod is not mr. neat, if you know him. spends 30 minutes on his hands and knees rooting around in the middle of the campaign like when he should be writing speeches and stuff on his hands and knees searching for his lucky tie. >> it looks like the chicken terndz and the ban on thai food seemed to work out for the obama campaign. >> the larger nonculinary theme of the book is that jeff martin does some great reporting in boston. the sense of self-delusion, the fact that romney micromanaged it in a sometimes idiotic way
really contrasted with this machine that chicago had really -- >> you can say the chicken tenders and lucky thai stuff is garbage, but at the end of the day that's a superstitious thing. when it comes to actual strategy, sam, i thought this was incredible. romney's point system -- >> exactly. >> romney instituted a point system that assigned a specific numerical value to each event. rallies, speeches, fund raisers and so wrosh the more labor-intensive the event am, the higher the score. he was not to exceed 900 points on any given day. it never really stuck. yet, until the very end romney's assistant still dutyfully sent daily emails detailing how many points romney was using up on that day's schedule. >> i'm at 628. i want to know everything about this point system and -- i mean, 700? >> what was the logic behind that? >> the logic behind it -- i think the speech was the bigger one. fundraisers might be the largest ticket number. the idea was -- >> how big a number is a fundraiser? >> romney -- well, i guess that
depends -- 47, i think, was the number. >> oh, fwlen. >> sorry about that. i in the point was that he felt in 2008 and from his corporate experience that the most valuable commodity is the candidate's time, and he thought that this would be a way of doing that. i think it really is a wonderful illustration and a lot of folks on his campaign gave it to us how he was penny-wise and a pound foolish with his time. he didn't delegate and didn't understand how campaigns were supposed to be run. >> i have thoughts in my head 16 times a day. they just stay there. >> if i metricized. don't talk to the other people about that. >> it's further proof that he might have been a robot. >> i think this is actually like -- romney's campaign is the -- the essence of the consulting fallicy. you can take someone who has graduated from harvard, which is hard to do, and that you can put them in any business and they'll be equally good at running that business, and as an outsider tell them what to do, and so he comes into this incredibly specialized arena, in which he has had some success, but not
stellar success, and he decides that he is going to run this campaign, and he is going to micromanage it and set up all these consulting metrics, and at the end of the day he should have been trusting the professionals who had been -- i mean, i remember a friend of mine, who is a management consultant, walking into -- doesn't matter -- a travel company and talking to the vp of sales, and they're, like, what should you do? she's, like, i don't know. you do this for a living. i don't. that's what he should have known. that is what he should have done. >> jonathan does a brilliant job -- >> did you not write any of this book? is. >> didn't really. >> all right. >> i bought him the -- no. we wrote this thing in three and a half weeks, mind you. >> be aware of all those typos. >> the paradocks with romney is he proved to be a resilient person during the campaign, and somebody who really inspired his staff. that was not really the book on him. personally he sort of comes through as somebody who is able to inspire his team, which was something i think people on the outside didn't really get a good -- >> the spontaneity algarhythm worked.
>> i will end this on this anecdote, which is the plouff early attack strategy, which is probably one of the key take-away from this entire race is you call it one of the few episodes of odd affect. it was an untested proposition. if you could go naked at the end of the campaign and still win, plouffe told the authors it was a gut-wrenching decision really, you could go into the abyss. spend your money because you can never get time back. >> obama, one of the things that really fascinated me about that is obama hated the general idea of borrowing from the end of the campaign to pay it forward. he was always haunted by this notion that he would have to pay his campaign debt, like hillary had to, that he would have to go around with the begger bowl if he lost the campaign and get people to pay off his consultants. obama throughout the campaign, even when it was apparent that the campaign was raising money on-line in a healthy clip, obama would dip into plouffe's office and hey, man, how are the numbers this week? obama was constantly action news shus about the cash. >> it worked out well.
could you go on a ban, a thai food ban? could you outlaw it from your diet? >> it could be tough, but approximate if it could get me to a 900 point day. >> like weight watchers. >> i think sthoe was a 900 point show. that's what i'm going to say. the book is the end of the line. glen thrush, you get a special thank you. thank you. thank you to the rest of our panel. josh, meagan, and sam, whose book "thanksgiving, how to cook it well" is out on stands. i cooked from it extentively over the holidays. that is all for now. ari is in for me at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific. he will be joined by sam stein, healther mcgehee, and daily show co-creator liz winstead. until then find us at facebook.com/"now with alex." andrea mitchell reports is coming up next. no, it's worse -- look, our taxes are about to go up. not the taxes on our dividends though, right? that's a big part of our retirement. oh, no, it's dividends, too. the rate on our dividends would more than double.
but we depend on our dividends to help pay our bills. we worked hard to save. well, the president and congress have got to work together to stop this dividend tax hike. before it's too late. ♪ you make me happy [ female announcer ] choose the same brand your mom trusted for you. children's tylenol, the #1 brand of pain and fever relief recommended by pediatricians and used by moms decade after decade.